1. PROLOGUE (1960)
In 1960 all was not well in London fandom. London Circle dissidents had broken away and formed their
own group, the Science Fiction Club of London. Prominent among those dissidents
were the trio - Vince Clarke, Joy Clarke, and Sandy Sanderson - known as 'Inchmery' after Inchmery Road in South
London where they all shared a house together. Vince Clarke was not at all happy with fandom and was on the
point of quitting it, as can be seen in this letter to him from George Locke dated 7 April 60:
This is a heck of a time for something like your card to come along. but it's just as well it did, this morning,
as I'll be in Fleet this afternoon. The trouble is - being so darned pushed for time, I've already stencilled
the rest of the column and the zine is now in its final form at Ella's preparatory to running off. If you're
adamant, then out it'll have to come, but...
I think I know exactly how you feel about the editing out of this particular section of the column - and I'm
already feeling bad about it - and, believe me, please, I agree entirely with the sentiments expressed there
as far as Sandy goes. The reason I reluctantly dropped it - which probably wasn't made clear in my last note
was that you had some pretty sharp things to say about fandom. Back to this in a moment, but let's return to
Sandy. I personally feel very badly about this current TAFF campaign. I'd originally intended to remain - in
SMOKE, at least - neutral, but when I saw the Fannish and issues of FANAC immediately preceding that, I decided
to have SMOKE back Sandy, and accepted those Rotsler illos, two of which are being run in this issue. The first
part of the relevant section, too, I would have loved to run - but the last two and a bit paragraphs I feel
would be unwise in the extreme. You once confided in me that you were contemplating a blast at fandom and then
disappearing. I remember being non-committal, possibly nodding sympathetically. From that moment on, I was
scared something in this nature would show up in the column I was so mercilessly badgering you for. And when it
did I was as sorry as hell. It honestly grieves me that you should have to write something like this. In your
position, I feel I might have had to do the same - in your position I almost certainly would. But such a piece,
if printed, I think will only make matters even worse than they are now for Sandy - and, something which grieves
me even more, for you. You were the first person I ever met at the Globe... I remember you shepherding me around
the rest of us several Christmases ago, when I first arrived. And many people in fandom I consider think the same
about you. They love your writing, and they'd really hate to see you go off like this in print.
The worst of it is, you're so dead right. I'm not deeply involved in fan affairs, still the blue-eyed, innocent
neo, but I've seen enough for me to realise the truth basically in your comments. But surely, it's not the whole
of fandom that gives the stink, but a relative few; the lack of ethics of these make this appear universally true,
as its the only aspect which comes to light. Is it worth blasting them when the truth will inevitably come out
sooner or later?
Wonder if I'll be able to make it to the Con? Probably won't know until the day comes round... I'm feeling very
pessimistic as to events which will occur at the Con. I'd promised a con report to Bruce Pelz, but I fear events
may prove that it would be better not to attend...I dunno. I want to be there, though, to see fans again, and
several I'm itching to meet.
Hope you're all well down Inchmery way, and give my best wishes to them all. Hope Sandy liked the final version
of that story did for Ape. No hope of Eye Tracks being out for some time, but, did I tell you? Fred Brown was
interested, and may even write an article for it. Give my love to Nikki. Please let me know what you decide
about the column, and I'll tip the wink to Ella.
A report on the convention Locke was so worried about, the 1960 Eastercon, can be found
here, with photos,
In June, Joy told Vince she was leaving him for Sandy and that they would be moving
to the US. Vince was devastated and wrote a wrenching, 14-page letter to fandom about the situation. For those
who want to read this, it's available as a free ebook download here.
I recently unearthed some responses in Vince's letterfiles, two of which I present below:
BUCK COULSON (12 June 60):
I must say your letter came as a shock to us. All I can do
is offer my sympathy; I don't feel that I know any of you
well enough to do more than that. And, of course, my sympathy
won't do you one damned bit of good, but there doesn't seem to
be anything that I can do to help.
I'll publish the bare facts in YANDRO. Some of our readers
have been corresponding with Inchmery and should know that the
group is breaking up, but I doubt that any of them really need
to know all the facts - not even all the ones you put in your
letter - and I don't think it's a good idea to publish
more than necessary.
You will of course get a copy of the next issue. I won't
send any after that unless you express a desire to receive it;
if you intend to quit fandom you might want to continue to
receive one or two fanzines, but I rather doubt that YANDRO would be
one of them. I've no objection to keeping you on the mailing list if
you really want to continue receiving the mag; it's just that I doubt that you will.
One complication in all this was that though Joy had taken his name she and Vince had never actually
married, and Vince refused to let her take their daughter to the US with them. Walt Willis addressed
Vince's options in his reply:
WALT WILLIS (undated):
Thanks for the pc. It's sort of nice to feel you're so near. On a clear day we can
see the houses and fields of Scotland quite clearly from our golf course at Carnalea,
near Bangor, Co.Down and I almost feel I could wave to you. Incidentally if any small
white balls land around you, post them back.
I got your 14-page letter and read it with what it seems
callous to call interest. I didn't say anything at the time mainly because I felt
inadequate to say properly what I felt, and partly because I wanted to think about
whether you were right to say all you did. Contrary to what may be the general opinion,
I think you probably were. People are going to have some impression of what happened
at Inchmery, and it's better that they should have the truth than a false one, and the
truer the better. Besides, and this is a point which must have occurred to you, those
two will have more opportunity to spread their version by word of mouth than you. As
for Joy's letters, nothing you quoted brought any discredit on her.... quite the reverse.
The only thing I thought you did that might have been unwise was to involve the Dietzs
and the WSFS question... we don't want to broaden the field of conflict. (Incidentally
it would be interesting to me to know if you've changed your mind about the is WSFS
issue and sometime when you've got more time maybe you'd tell me now you feel about it now.)
Since your last duplicated letter I've been hearing reports about you and the SFCL,
which have surprised me a bit, and I thought perhaps I'd let you know that we don't
feel at all as they do. As far as we're concerned the name of Sanderson now belongs
in the same category as that of Wetzel and it won't appear in any fmz we have control
over. This goes for all of us including Ian McAulay (who is coming to Belfast to
co-produce Hyphen and in his spare time do research into dust at the University) and,
incidentally, his American correspondent Betty Kujawa. This is no particular hardship
since neither of them can write for toffee and you're worth a hundred of them to fandom.
DNQ those last three sentences though because I don't want to involve anyone unwillingly
in public controversy, or to arouse any of the sympathy that goes to people being
apparently run out of fandom. The statement by you should have been enough for everyone
to make up his mind. Let them make their own enemies from now on... that won't take long.
The sort of *persona* that will be created by that Dietz-Sanderson menage is too horrible
to contemplate. It reminds me vaguely of that story about the club where the members all
sat round a hole in the floor in which they had. tossed cigar butts, dregs of food and
drink etc, and beat back with clubs the Things that eventually crawled out. (By Wodehouse,
of all people.)
I hope you have good advice about adoption, because it's quite a tricky situation. I
helped to draft an Adoption Bill in NI similar to the current British one and though
the law may have changed since then it seems to me that Joy's consent will be required
and can only be dispensed with if she cannot be contacted or if in the opinion of the
court it's unreasonably withheld. They're bound to be more punctilious about that than
they are in the case for instance of an unmarried mother adopting her own child,(where
the consent of the putative father can be dispended with if he has refused to maintain
it), which is the usual type of case. I wonder if it is not possible that Joy might give
her consent to the interim order and then withdraw it before the adoption order proper
can be made. This would bring the local authority in because they will be appointed
guardian ad litem of Nikki during the period between the two orders and they have power
to take a child into their care when the interim order expires without a final order
having been made. As I say I don't claim to be an expert on the current law: all I
suggest is that you make sure your solicitor is, and remember that Joy can block things
right up to the last moment.
Glad to hear about the course, not only because it's a good thing in itself but because
of what it shows about your attitude. I've always thought it was ridiculous that someone
with as much intelligence and ability and well... hell, charm... as yourself should be
content with the jobs you've had, and figured it was because you just hadn't any ambition.
Now you have and there's nothing to stop you. If there's any help I can give...books,
etc...anything.... just mention it.
Though Vince had originally intended to remain in fandom the associations proved too much for
him and so he left. More than two decades would pass before he returned.